Whoo! So here’s the rant I promised/warned you about. I feel bad doing this, but I need to get this out, and am excited to see what you guys think of the subject, and the discussion that will hopefully follow this.
It all started when I was thinking about what I’d put in a review on These Broken Stars. I remembered that I didn’t really like the characters in it or Lilac and Tarver’s relationship, but I couldn’t figure out why exactly. Then I realized I had a pretty big issue with Lilac. She was just a straight up entitled “beach,” (Yes, the sandy kind. I try to use nice words.) to Tarver at least. We are all told why, and it is understandable.*SPOILER* Her father basically murdered the last guy she had a thing with, obviously she wouldn’t want that to happen again, but I had a serious issue with how she handled it. I mean really, the only way she could avoid this was to be cruel and mean when he was keeping her alive?
Then I realized that this tends to be a fairly common theme in YA novels. This whole idea of, “I love you, but to protect you I’m just going to push you away in rude unexplained ways, but in the end it’s all going to be ok, and we’ll live happily ever after…” is repeated in many YA books and it bothers me. When has this ever worked out in real life? Why are authors putting something like this in print over and over if we can clearly see that it isn’t good and that it wouldn’t work out so perfectly in real life? We are telling readers’ subconscious’ that this “solution” to dealing with situations like these in relationships in real life actually works out too. The world already lacks communication and kindness and relationships are already complicated enough with out trying to push every one away by being mean without explanation because we’ve seen it work out in books. We know the subliminal messages conveyed in media and advertising is proven to affect the decisions we make and how we live our lives and reading something in a book doesn’t necessarily work any different.
There were so many other things Lilac could have done rather than be mean and hope that is irritating enough to make him leave her alone. Option one: tell him the truth a bit sooner than she did. Option two: politely turn him down (and maybe apologize for leading him on in the beginning if she was worried about that.) Option three: politely explain why distance is necessary with logical reasons. Option four: treat him politely, and with respect, but discourage any relationship from the start. She could have done other things too. Now I get that if she had done something different it would have taken away some of the conflict in the book making it less interesting, but I still feel like the authors should have either found away to make the book be interesting despite her polite rejection (or how ever else she decided to peacefully resolve the situation) or just not had the issue of her pushing him away in there and either just eliminated that element or replaced it with another issue.
What do you guys think? Do you read lots of books were this occurs? How do you feel about this theme in YA books? Is it getting old or do you find it to be entertaining and think it helps the story?